Friday, November 17, 2006

Swamp or Cienega? Cienega or Swamp?

You pays your money and you takes your choice. We have one pretty close to the Square. Not quite what you'd expect in this dry country! When I got there to take pictures Tuesday, the summer's cattails had been cut down. Too bad. I had to make do with this unappetizing picture at the sidewalk right behind Hastings. It's where one of the springs empties into the swamp, bog, or cienega over at Four Points, next YRMC's heliport. Let's use the Spanish word, cienega. It's a lot classier -- smacks of that boulevard in LA, named no doubt, for a swamp, bog or cienega over in Lala land.

Most drivers motoring down Willow Creek Road probably aren't even aware that there's a swamp just to the South of that chopper. Believe you me, the boat tailed grackles know. It's one of their favorite hangouts -- in season, of course. They've already gone south.

Take your life in your hands, cross the boulevard, and... the inscription on that stone. You will realize that the corner has been dolled up. I even noted a watering system to take care of the non-indigenous pampas grass and shrubs.

But get close up and there's a surprising amount of water at the lower level. It doesn't show here because it's covered by autumn leaves.

At the right are some of the dried cattails.

The hospital parking lot is visible just beyond this end of the cienega. I recall when contractors were redoing the parking lot a few years ago; they had one Big Problem. Springs. Paving would proceed; next thing they knew, Oops! A spring would pop through the asphalt.

Old-timers will explain that the north side of town, between Granite Creek and the heights, not only is full of springs, but that it used to be called Spring Valley. There is rumored to be a structure, once a neighborhood grocer, that had its spring house cooler inside the main building. And I've heard other tales about springs and seeps that surprised builders of major projects.

The Four Points cienega is on both north and south sides of the Whipple Street Cross Town. The south section isn't as pretty -- no trees to speak of.

Amusingly enough, many of the plants visible on the corners are desert dwellers, including this California poppy still in bloom in mid-November.


k said...

I would never have expected this. I just adore swamps. Good thing, huh?

But really! In Prescott?!?


Granny J said...

Yup, in Prescott! But one reason the town was settled is that it is on a small creek that is almost perennial.Then there's that rather fascinating phenomenon of springs often happening beneath the lava cap of some mesas; the north end of town is just that -- an eroded vocanic mesa.

Desert Cat said...

I have noticed that about california poppies--as long as there is water, they don't give up in the heat.

On my irrigated spring wildflower beds I do shut it off by June though.

Granny J said...

We get two blooming seasons from California poppies up here in the high country -- early spring and after the monsoons are well underway. Also our CPs are perennial if they get periodic water. I bought a pound of R.E.D. Calif poppy seed in a fit of foolish expectation that the el nino would bring us rain this winter. I'm sure that that foolish purchase has turned the weather gods against us. I apologize to all.

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